Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book: "The Impossible Fortress" by Jason Rekulak

The inside of the jacket of "The Impossible Fortress", the debut novel from Jason Rekulak, says the book is "A Love Letter to the 1980s", which was, essentially, why I selected it. I'm a product of that era, a time where music, fashion, society and politics defined who I was and who I was becoming; so it was with great pleasure to read Rekulak's fun-filled story about a nerd (not unlike myself at the time), his friends, their quest for a copy of Vanna White's Playboy edition, and an understanding of what life itself meant at the time.

Fourteen year old Billy Marvin of Wetbridge, New Jersey is happy hanging with his friends, Alf (yes, named after the alien television character) and Clark. All they want is a good time....and, when it comes out, a copy of the Playboy featuring Vanna White, who at the time was America's favorite sweetheart (this point, I had forgotten). But for Billy, this priority changes when he meets Mary Zelinsky, the daughter of the store proprietor housing the wanted magazine, who also happens to write programs for computer games (which, at the time, was THE BIG thing!). After Mary's invitation to work together to master Billy's own computer game, "The Impossible Fortress", they do so, meeting everyday after school in order to submit the code to a computer gaming contest in the hopes of, alas, winning a better computer. Alas, things don't always work out as planned, and Billy's plans in working with Mary, along with the gangs' plans to pilfer the Playboys from Mary's father's store, all fall apart.

Rekulak's debut novel touches on references to 1980's pop culture that I had forgotten but was quickly reminded of when I read the novel. It is such a welcome read, a human story with life lessons, the innocence-to-experience theme, what friendship and caring and family mean and most of all, what it means to discover that which is possible within yourself.